_Gabriel Akhabue Iruobe_
_January, 2022_


Someone just drew our attention at the Ologhe Village Square (a WhatsApp Forum), to the foreseeable danger for Ologhe and Ebelle at large, in terms of a current land grabbing exercise going on at that axis. And I join him to say, wakeup Ologhe.

Only very patriotic persons can address the hydra-headed problem of land grabbing as this, because of the array of sympathizers ready to defend the culprits for pecuniary interests or aggrandizement. Thank God we still have some select young people who cannot be swayed by sentiments and can boldly come to the social media platforms to alert us on the activities of community intruders who come in stealthily to take over our inheritance without any concrete liaising with the host community. It is as bad as isolating individuals, if you like, hold them hostage, and force them (because of poverty) to engage in a trade relation hardly distinguishable from outright plundering.

On the other hand, come to think of it, are these intruders forcing our people to sell their inheritance? No!. It is simply a moron mentality to ask a Barber to cut you ears along with shaving your hair. Our idiotic syndrome do not know the extent to relinquish inheritance for peanuts.

And, as if they cant see tomorrow they appear voiceless in bargains that mortgage their children’s future, especially with regard to boarders. Why should they sell off the parcels land of land that demarcates Ebelle from other communities like Ewossa. And where lies the Ebelle boarder lands with the callous obliteration and erosion of boarders that now exit?

However, the reason why personally I have been quiet about this is that much of the parcels of land being sold at ridiculous prices are bought, not by non-indigene but by an indigene – Okuta man, a chief for that matter. To some extent, we can rest our minds that we are in safe hands. In style, he is still securing the land for Ebelle. But Ologhe has been very docile in playing her mediatory role. No contract papers are signed. No agreement is entered into. All we hear are promises made by the Chief that a company establishment is in view. This is regardless of whether or not they or their children will be qualified to work in such glorified company. There ought to be an Iko-Egbe by now regarding the giving away of boarder lands. The palace and Ebelle chiefs should be laying down framework for proper deed of transfer to guide the king on his intervening role.

However, for now, Ebelle don’t appear to be losing anything. But then, I hope Okuta will not extend their boarder with Ologhe to include Ewossa axis and claim ownership of the vast lands since it now belongs to their son? It will be too ugly to conceive of that. We are the same people anyway and wouldn’t expect any provocative move. Some of us still remember the Ologhe/Okuta disputes of the past and wouldn’t want to wakeup hostility.

What Ologhe should rightly be doing is to consider the purchaser as a Customary Tenant to Ologhe, even though the parcels of land have left the hands of the individual families of Ologhe, the erstwhile owners. But as a community, the land should still be “labelled” Ologhe Land. It is only by so doing it remains Ebelle land.

Moreover, the Ologhe people in the Diaspora must rise to the challenge of keep their fathers and uncles at home of development track they should guard jealously. They should be told to safeguard our heritage and not fall for every financial peanut dangled at them by any land grabbers, else, very soon, we will be the ones begging these people (not referring to our brother Chief now) to sell land to us in our fatherland. If they wish to sell any land, it should not be those ones on our boarders, in my thinking. Okpujie should also mind their boarder too. That of Ogwa is already lost. Don’t even think of that of Okalo.

Anyone who has such an opportunity to grab so much can even decide to sell them in the future to Boko Haram, ISWAP or ISIS for the much controversial Cattle Ranch. It will be a question of who can pay for it. And they control the wealth of Nigeria. And, trust them, they are likely to fence such parcels of land with a caveats, “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted”. And if they kidnap any one, our security operatives are not likely to gain entrants into those camps or similitude of lion dens, nether would our local vigilante, with all their empowerment. It is likely going to be a “free-terror-zone” in the community. Thus, we can be sold without even knowing we have become slaves.
Let our eyes be opened, Ebelle people.
I am even aware that the sold portions of land that used to be Ologhe Families land along the Expressway now bears the tag, “Welcome to Ebhosa”, conspicuously displayed. That has not been challenged by Ologhe people, nor have they removed the provocative signboard on any ground of mutual respect. Can we blame Ewossa people for being smart about their heritage? We should rather blame the Ologhe people for a weakling and defective defence of rare patrimony. They demonstrated such docility before when they failed to ask those who constructed the railway line to give them a bridge across the Old Agbor-Uromi road around the Ewossa axis.

What more can we say? That the vibrant youths of Ologhe have all left home for greener pastures? We may wake up one day to find that Ewossa have moved their sign post to Ogodo-Ifada. Then we would cry with no body to listen to our cries.

My prayer for Ologhe is that if Ebelle land will be grabbed by strangers, let it not be from the Ologhe axis. But for an Okuta man to engage in mass purchase of Ologhe land, in itself is not a bad idea. But there is an evil that can occur with the privatization and de-prioritization of the said parcels of land as community land. It is the illegitimate resale of such lands to terrorists in the future that we must guard against. And, the Okuta Chief must make a solid pact with the Ologhe people who are the Customary Landlords. That your fathers are not talking doesn’t mean that the Ologhe youths cannot override their myopic understanding of the antics of economic predators.
If you have access to Ologhe elders, Ebelle people, you better pull their ears.
Ebelle Ogha-mhen! Iseee!

About Gabriel Iruobe

I have a background in Sociology from the University of Ibadan. Although, an industrial sociologist, my interest in rural societies have grown over the years. The sociological insight gained in my school days have had me define development in a fashion slightly different from an orthodox orientation. Studying or researching on rural life is quite easy for me since I spent my early life in a rural setting, viewing all the attractions often overlooked by the urban elites. If the rule of sustainable development is to be followed, no aspect of the world's cultural heritage is to be ignore or neglected. This is my obsession.

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